Why The Coming FBX Shutdown Is Great News For Publishers And Native Ad Exchanges

on Programmatic Native

With around $1 million in daily advertiser spend, FBX has long been proof that real time bidding can be used on the open market for more than just banner ads. For years, FBX has allowed brands to use their legacy DSP’s to buy into Facebook’s non-standard inventory (component parts assembled to fit, rather than boxes and banners). And more importantly, the early success of FBX proved that a non-banner media strategy could be used to achieve the same campaign goals as with traditional display ads. Banners work; native ads work better.

Four years after it launched, Facebook will shutter FBX in November in favor of a return to a walled garden strategy (brands using the Facebook ad platform directly, or API partners managing their Facebook ad platform accounts for them).

But what will come of the $1 million that RTB bidders are spending each day, which will soon be incompatible with Facebook’s walled garden tech?

There is a clear line that can be drawn between the component parts needed to run ads on FBX and exchanges like STX (the Sharethrough Exchange) that buy and sell native ads programmatically through the OpenRTB 2.4 standards.

At Sharethrough we’re already seeing native ad dollars migrate from FBX to OpenRTB-enabled native ad exchanges like ours, as brands consider how to reallocate ad dollars outside of Facebook. The main actors here include product retargeters, B2B marketers, and performance-focused brand marketers.

Part of this transition is that there is a clear line that can be drawn between the component parts needed to run ads on FBX and exchanges like STX (the Sharethrough Exchange) that buy and sell native ads programmatically through the OpenRTB 2.4 standards.

Since the launch of FBX in 2012, programmatic native has surpassed programmatic display not only in technical capabilities but also gross spend. Current US estimates forecast $16.8 billion in native ad spending in 2016, compared to $13.2 billion in traditional display.

In the last four years though, the infrastructure has been put in place to allow programmatic native to extend far beyond Facebook’s walls. The OpenRTB 2.3 protocols that were ratified in 2015 (and updated in 2016 with the Native 1.1 extension), formally standardized the tradeable metadata to allow for native ads to be bought and sold in real time on the open web through existing DSP’s and with existing RTB bidders. As the feed has become the design paradigm for the open web (following in part, Facebook’s lead) and audiences have increasingly migrated to mobile, native ads have cemented their place as not only the most effective but also the only sensible ad format for the new web.

Taking advantage of this new revenue stream, publishers of all stripes in recent years have adopted full stack platform solutions for the programmatic management and selling of native, in-feed ads.

On any given week now at Sharethrough, we see well over 1,000 brands buying native ads programmatically through major DSPs on the Sharethrough Exchange, where publishers use our SSP to make their native ad inventory available to RTB buyers.

The native advertising moment is now, and native RTB on the open web is the catalyst. Native ad platforms like Sharethrough have benefitted massively. In 2015 we saw 518% growth in publishers using our native ad platform (our “native SSP”) to manage and sell their native ads to marketers directly, indirectly, and programmatically.

Since OpenRTB launched support for native, we’ve established and launched the first true programmatic native integrations with most of the major DSP’s -- including AppNexus and The Trade Desk most recently.

On any given week now at Sharethrough, we see well over 1,000 brands buying native ads programmatically through these DSPs on the Sharethrough Exchange, where publishers use our SSP to make their native ad inventory available to RTB buyers.

In 2015 we saw 518% growth in publishers using our native ad platform to manage and sell their native ads to marketers directly, indirectly, and programmatically.

As Facebook raises the walls on its advertising platform, some of the spend from FBX will shift across to Facebook’s walled-garden buying options. But the true RTB spend will not, as it’s incompatible. This RTB spend is and will continue to shift to open exchanges like Sharethrough, Taboola, and MoPub.

Programmatic native in 2016 has a purpose and function that transcends FBX. On the open web, buyers can put their proprietary data and audience targeting to use. Imagine this: a brand could target a consumer within driving distance of a store with content that tells a story about a few products in that person’s shopping cart. I like to think of native as ads that people actually read, versus banners that people only see (and peripherally at that).


FBX may be dead, but long live programmatic native advertising.